Since I started Modestics I’ve discovered it’s a small world of makers. Every maker seems to know and admire someone else who makes something. And the paths are constantly overlapping. – Recently in the course of one week, I was introduced to Hennepin Made, by two makers who I admire. They both said to me, “Linda, do you know bout Hennepin Made?” – Once I looked in to Hennepin Made, I thought they were perfect! Now here’s a company that represents the good honest innovators of Minneapolis! They produce modern glass lighting and accessories. Each piece is handmade in their Minneapolis studio. – I’m delighted to introduce Jackson Schwartz and Joe Limpert of Hennepin Made to you!
Modestics: Tell us where the name came from?
Hennepin Made: Our business grew out of an artistic practice of making unique works. At that time we were working out of a community studio located on Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis. We decided that to really make it work as a business we had to switch to a designer/maker model and create functional products. So we looked for a studio space and found a block away also on Hennepin Ave. At that point we had to come up with a name for the studio/business and we thought “we are on Hennepin Ave and we make things, so how about Hennepin Made?” It grew on us because Minneapolis is in Hennepin County and it is a name that is really connected to the city.
MO: When did you start Hennepin Made?
HM: In the Fall of 2011
MO: When did you feel like you were a “real company”?
HM: In 2012 we designed an exclusive collection for Room & Board. We are continuing to design and produce more pieces for them.
MO: What aspect of your job do you love?
HM: We both love our shop dog Stella (she’s a standard poodle)
Joe: Trying to problem solve designs into production to make them an accessible price. Working with my hands blowing glass and leading the production team.
Jackson: Working with suppliers to innovate on the “non-glass components” such as the electrical lighting parts and aluminum spinnings to make them higher quality and more durable. I think we still get excited to think people want to live with our pieces in their home.
MO: What was the first thing you made?
Joe: A re-conditioned Zippo lighter. I guess I was into fire at a pretty young age.
Jackson: My father is an electrical engineer and I was always making stuff with him. We made an ice rink and maple syrup boiler on the property we lived on. As for actual objects, I first started making fishing lures as a kid for my own use and would sell them at the local hardware store
MO: Do you, yourself make your products or do you have factories that you work with?
HM: We produce all of the glass pieces and have been able to source most the other components locally. On our Parallel Series we collaborate with a company in Minneapolis to produce the aluminum spinnings which are hand made. We also have some chandeliers launching in a couple of weeks which we are working with a local machinist on the aluminum frame to hold the glass. Additionally we have an electrical supplier in the area that we have designed parts with. At our scale, having local partners is very important because makes it much easier to improve quality and be able to customize.
MO: What is your favorite Made in USA designer?
HM: We saw Phloem Studio/Benjamin Klebba’s work last year at ICFF and the craftsmanship is amazing. Our other favorite American design brands are Heath Ceramics and Loll Designs. Both have amazing products and a commitment to the values we believe in.
MO. Do you have any hidden talents or special interest?
Joe: Building and riding bikes. I build a snow bar in my backyard each winter which for one night becomes a neighborhood phenomenon.
Jackson: I love cooking and hosting dinners on a weekly basis. To get away I go on fishing excursions to remote parts of Canada.
MO: Any memorable on the job work injuries /close calls?
Joe: I’ve touched the hot glass a few times, which is never a good idea. Other than that, just burning of some hair and eyelashes from the kilns.
Jackson: When were building our studio we had to move some very heavy equipment a few times. We had some close calls where we all look at each other and think “that would have been bad!”
Don’t you agree? Hennepin Made are true Minneapolis Marvels. Want to win your own Hennepin Made light? Enter to win a pendant from their Parallel Collection and free shipping for a month, on their website: http://hennepinmade.com
Do you know a modern maker I should know about? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org